Scholarship application deadline approaching

By Carrie Williams: DeCA marketing specialist

FORT LEE, Va. — For military parents who have children about to enter college or already attending, the opportunity to apply for a $1,500 scholarship through the Defense Commissary Agency’s Scholarships for Military Children Program is ending Feb. 18.

Applications are available in commissaries worldwide. You may also fill out an application online at the Military Scholar Web site, http://www.militaryscholar.org, but the Web site does not have a “submit” button, so you must print a copy and drop it off at a commissary. You may also fill the application out by hand. At least one scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location with qualified applicants.

Since the scholarship program kicked off in 2001, it has distributed more than $6.4 million dollars in scholarships to more than 4,000 of the best and brightest children of military families.

“Education today is very expensive,” said Andrew Knaub, a 2003 scholarship recipient from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., “so every dime you get in scholarship money is that much less you’ll have to pay back in college loans after you graduate.” Knaub put his $1,500 toward tuition at Penn State, earning a bachelor’s degree in finance while specializing in international business.

Knaub said education has completely changed the course of his life. “Without it I wouldn’t have been able to travel abroad to other universities, and I would not have been able to get the job I have today as a compliance analyst with a securities firm.

“Since I paid for most of my education with loans and money from summer jobs, this scholarship means a few less months of my salary today that will go toward repaying those loans.”

While the $1,500 scholarship can only be applied to undergraduate studies, the money it saves students and their families can then be applied to postgraduate work.

Starla Armstrong, a 2003 scholarship recipient from Fort Gordon, Ga., did just that and went on to earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Georgia Southern University at Statesboro, Ga. “Education plays a huge role in my life. I’m committed to a career that requires two advanced degrees; I will have spent 11 years in college before entering the workforce!” Armstrong is working on a doctorate in counseling psychology at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., and plans to pursue a career in counseling psychology with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And then, of course, there’s the psychological payoff of earning a scholarship. “If anything, the scholarship provided a sense of support in knowing that DeCA and Fisher House believed in my potential,” explained Joshua Lanzet, a 2003 scholarship recipient from Cairo, Egypt. Lanzet put his scholarship to good use, graduating magna cum laude from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. He is working for the Coca-Cola Company’s North and West Africa Business Unit in public affairs and communications.